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The social media parameter on protest movement mobilization: the case study of the Greek Aganaktismenoi movement

Zestanaki, S. (2019). The social media parameter on protest movement mobilization: the case study of the Greek Aganaktismenoi movement. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis concerns an inquiry into the social media parameter on protest movement mobilization. In particular, it investigates how the use of social media in the contemporary, heavily mediatized environment –contested by the emergence of the media manifold and the increasing interdependence of social relations- affect the way citizens mobilize on an unprecedented scale and velocity. It looks at the possible effects this social-media led mobilization has on participants’ sense of political efficacy -their belief in their agency’s capacity to inflict political change- as well as its relation to the public sphere on a national and transnational level. To illustrate this, the author uses the case of the Greek Aganaktismenoi movement, which was active between May and November 2011.

The research questions of this thesis touch two main areas: social mobilization in a heavily mediatized environment; and the role of digital and social media platforms in the development of this new-type of movements.

This thesis proposes a post-constructivist, multiparadigm theoretical approach, combining critical theories of media and sociology with a research tool from political communication. This is reflected in the adapted methodology; more specifically, a qualitative approach, based on ethnomethodology, supported by a mixed methods design, namely an emergent sequential exploratory triangulation design, complimenting reflexive empirical work.

One of the key findings of this research was the nexus of social media-led mobilization and political naivety which characterized the initial large crowds of participants. This signifies, that the autonomized, a-political nature of the social media who played the role of the ‘’organizing grounds’’ of the movement, affected the participants’ capacity to display actual and effective counterpower. However, this thesis argues that social media’s heritage on protest movement mobilization, in the case of the Aganaktismenoi, was observed in the form of three pillars of emancipation: 1) Legitimation of collective decisions via their publication in social media, 2) Personal responsibility for posted material and 3) The realization of the potential of a latent direct-democratic prospect. A novice feature of this research is the proven direct relation between participating in this new type of social-media led mobilizations and enhanced levels of participants’ political efficacy.

Future research is needed to explore further the relationship between digital media as tools of mediated mobilization and political efficacy of the participants in such protest mobilizations, as well as the implications of mediatization on protest movements’ longevity and the quality of the political discourse produced and popularized during digital media-led mobilizations.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
City, University of London (-2022) > School of Arts & Social Sciences
School of Arts & Social Sciences
School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
School of Policy & Global Affairs > School of Policy & Global Affairs Doctoral Theses
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